Energy Update: Week of 12/11

Energy Update - December 11, 2017


It is Hanukkah week which begins on tomorrow night at sunset and ends next Wednesday.  Hanukkah is a Jewish Festival of Lights is celebrated for eight days and nights.  It commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire.

An info-packed “In the News” section this week after last week’s busy-ness.  It includes some reaction to the solar trade hearing, more on the Cruz-White House RFS meeting, a new view from EPA on the New Source review program, and finally an extension for 30 days (requested by new FERC Chair Kevin McIntyre) for FERC to consider the DOE resiliency proposal aimed at supporting coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

The big political news this week is the Alabama Senate race and the tax reform conference committee, which will meet publicly for the first time on Wednesday.  While tax negotiations continue behind the scenes, Congress is also going full bore on a spending deal to avoid a government shutdown before Christmas.

We still have a big week in the Energy space (hopefully our last before gliding into the holidays).  Tomorrow, the White House rolls out what we hear will be “the most aggressive” 5-year offshore drilling plan ever.  While we all look for the HUGE tweet, we remind that will can answer many of your questions about the impacts and possibilities.

Also tomorrow, House Energy panels hosts automakers and auto dealers to discuss fuel standard and CAFE’s relook.  Senate Energy looks at FERC/Interior permitting and we will see committee votes on EIA’s Linda Capuano, Interior assistant secretary Tim Petty and NOAA’s Barry Myers (Wed in Senate Commerce).

Also Wednesday, the House Energy Subcommittee looks at NAFTA with our friends’ Karen Harbert of the Chamber Global Energy Institute and APFM’s Chet Thompson among those testifying, and Senate Environment hosts NRC Commissions to discuss nuclear.

Speaking of NAFTA and energy, National Journal hosts a webinar on it Thursday and Friday at 10:00 a.m., the Bipartisan Policy Center will host FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee for a sit down with BPC President Jason Grumet.


Finally, this morning, there are two interesting New York Times pieces worth reading: one is an internal look at Trump’s mindset and interactions from Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker which I found fascinating and informative; and the second looks at EPA’s enforcement and unfortunately picks up a usual theme backed by misleading stats.  In the second case, there is clearly a different (and just as reasonable) approach in this EPA which shouldn’t be a surprise to advocates or reporters. We are happy to discuss.

And in case you weren’t able to get there this morning at the Newseum, our friend and Axios Energy Reporter Amy Harder led a conversation on energy policies and priorities under President Trump with FERC’s Neil Chatterjee, Rep Paul Tonko and Heritage’s Nick Loris.  Check out the details…

Call with questions.  Best,

Frank Maisano

(202) 828-5864

  1. (202) 997-5932


The new episode of The Lobby Shop is live on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Google Play Music.  This week’s episode features Special Agent Tom O’Connor, President of the FBI Agents Association.  Tom discusses developments within the Bureau and FBIAA after Director Chris Wray’s nomination, how FBIAA is able to support active, retired, and deceased Special Agents and their families, and what issues are foremost in the minds of FBI personnel lately.  Since it is tax legislation season, we also have a bonus episode featuring PRG’s resident tax expert Liam Donovan on the latest in tax reform and what’s up next for the Conference Committee, final vote, and beyond. Tune in for a look behind the scenes and lots of seasonal analogies.


“It makes no sense to effectively tax tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. jobs out of existence, solely to benefit the commercially unskilled Chinese and German owners of Suniva and SolarWorld, who will cut and run.”

Michael O’Sullivan, senior vice president of development at NextEra Energy.


EPA Rolls Out Redefined NSR Focus in Memo – The EPA issued a memo on Friday saying the agency won’t “second guess” the analyses that companies have to conduct before construction projects on their plants to determine whether they might emit more pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. The well-constructed memo is the first step in a major initiative revise the New Source Review program, which governs permits for new or reconstructed plants’ emissions under the Clean Air Act.  The Supreme Court this morning declined to hear the major case involving EPA’s enforcement of the NSR program.  My Colleague Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA Air Office head is happy to discuss the details.

WSJ Blasts Ethanol – The Wall Street Journal Ed Board blasted the “hostage taking” over ethanol policy in an editorial last Thursday.  The piece discusses the back-and-forth over ethanol policy that first involved Corn State Senators blocking Trump EPA nominees, then oil state Senators pushing back by blocking Iowa-favored Ag nominees, including one that would clear a path for Sen. Grassley’s grandson to become Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture.  The Journal says the “Senate hostage-taking is unfortunate, not least because it undermines the ability of the executive branch to govern. But this is what happens when politicians decide to favor certain industries like ethanol at the expense of others. The political and economic damage will grow as long as this policy continues.” It also adds that America’s independent refiners and manufacturers deserve at least as much consideration as the Trump Administration has given ethanol interests. WSJ: “The RINs regime has imperiled the jobs of many blue-collar union voters who swung for Mr. Trump in 2016.”

AEI Report Hits RFS – The American Enterprise Institute has a new report looking at policymaking lessons from the RFS, saying the RFS would be better as a rate standard than a volume standard.  AEI also adds that EPA should issue multi-year rules rather than annual rules in order to improve certainty and that uncertainty should be explicitly incorporated into future rulemakings.

EPA to Hold Additional CPP Hearings – EPA said it would hold additional public hearings on the repeal the Clean Power Plan.  The hearing will be in San Francisco, Gillette, WY and Kansas City. The hearing were added due to the “overwhelming response” to the recent hearing in Charleston.  Dates and locations of the meetings will be announced in the coming weeks.

Companies Roll Out Landmark Methane Effort – API rolled out a landmark partnership to accelerate improvements to environmental performance in operations across the country. Focused initially on reducing methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, the Environmental Partnership includes 26 natural gas and oil producers, who produce a significant portion of American energy resources. Participating companies will begin implementing the voluntary program starting January 1, 2018.  Collectively, at the time of launch, the participating companies represent operations in every major U.S. natural gas and oil basin. The Environmental Partnership is a historic agreement bringing together American natural gas and oil companies of all sizes to take action, learn and collaborate in an effort to further improve our environmental performance.

What Methane Program Will Address – The three Environmental Performance Programs include:

  1. Leak Program for Natural Gas and Oil Production Sources: Participants will implement monitoring and timely repair of fugitive emissions at selected sites utilizing detection methods and technologies such as Method 21 or Optical Gas Imaging cameras.
  2. Program to Replace, Remove or Retrofit High-Bleed Pneumatic Controllers: Participants will replace, remove or retrofit high-bleed pneumatic controllers with low-or zero-emitting devices.
  3. Program for Manual Liquids Unloading for Natural Gas Production Sources: Participants will minimize emissions associated with the removal of liquids that, as a well ages, can build up and restrict natural gas flow.

Who is in? – Participants at launch include: Anadarko, Apache, BHP, BP, Chesapeake Energy, Cabot Oil & Gas, Chevron, Cimarex Energy, ConocoPhillips, CrownQuest, Devon Energy, Encana, EOG Resources, Exxon Mobil subsidiary XTO Energy, Hess, Marathon Oil, Murphy Oil, Newfield, Noble Energy, Occidental Petroleum, Pioneer Natural Resources, Shell, Southwestern Energy, Statoil, TOTAL and Western Gas Partners.  To view more information about the program and companies’ commitments, visit

SAFE Looks at Expand EV Markets – Securing America’s Future Energy released its quarterly update to the Energy Security Fact Pack, a data-driven overview of the latest trends in energy security. The Fact Pack includes charts on domestic and global oil production and consumption patterns, oil market dynamics and prices, and up-to-date information on fuel efficiency and advanced fuel vehicles.  The latest Fact Pack highlights developments in the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) market, which is poised to see significant growth in the coming years as a result of new models, lower battery costs, increased range, and growing consumer awareness. Demand for EVs has continued to rise in 2017, setting new records for purchases and vehicle model availability. Although six models currently account for nearly two-thirds of sales, consumers have a fuller range of choices with 37 models available, thanks to marked declines in battery technology costs and enhanced range.  See the Charts.

SAFE, Mayors Support of Federal EV Tax Credit – Speaking of SAFE, it has worked in collaboration with the City of Atlanta to recruit 22 mayors from cities across the country to sign a joint letter in support of the federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. The mayors’ letter was sent to the appointed members of the conference committee following recent passage of the House and Senate tax reform legislation. It called for the preservation of the Section 30D Federal Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Tax Credit, which offers a $7,500 discount on purchase of a new electric vehicle.  SAFE’s Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a coalition of CEOs and retired military leaders concerned with threats to America’s economic and national security through our continued oil dependence, have also express strong support of the EV tax credit citing it as a cornerstone to energy security policy.

Solar Growth Continues…. – The EIA said its latest monthly report shows that U.S. PV output in the first nine months of 2017 grew 47% over the same period in 2016, with market growth across the nation. PV represented 1.9% of total generation during this period. Every state in the U.S. increased its output from solar, from South Dakota, the only remaining state that did not generate more than 1,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) or one gigawatt-hour (GWh) in the nine month period, to perennial PV giant California.  California, with its 24.8 M mw, more than laps the field over next place Arizona, with 4.6M. However, as PV output growth across the U.S. accelerates, the Golden State’s share of PV generation, shrank from 48% in 2016 to 43% in 2017. Rounding out the top 10 generators are North Carolina, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Utah and Colorado. Of those top 10 states, Georgia had the highest year to year percentage growth, increasing 186% from 2016 to 2017, followed by Texas with 165% and Utah with 123%. Other states that made impressive percentage and quantity growth gains in the same time period are Minnesota, Idaho, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi.

…But Trade Case Creates Worry – Folks are worried though about solar in the face of new potential tariffs.  More than 60 witnesses testified in a cramped conference room at USTR during a final eight-hour public hearing on the Section 201 trade case.  A new GTM Research report finds that the average fixed-tilt utility-scale solar price has since edged back above of DOE’s price target, amid market uncertainty surrounding the Section 201 solar trade case. The recent price increase stems from a rush to procure “tariff-free” solar panels over the summer with the potential for new tariffs looming. The National Electrical Contractors told the Hill that thousands of high-tech, high-skilled, and good-paying electrical contractors’ jobs are at risk.

Third Way Releases CCS Map – Third Way has a new map and database that is the most comprehensive tracking site for projects working to capture carbon emissions. Third Way says there are 100 carbon capture projects globally, with 51 in the United States. These projects can capture, store, and utilize emissions from power and bioenergy plants, industrial facilities, and even directly from the air. Some are innovative new concepts being developed by startups, and others have been operating at commercial scale for decades. One thing they have in common: we’ll likely need this full suite of technologies to meet international and domestic climate goals.

ACCF Paper Focuses on Regs – The American Council for Capital Formation released a paper by former OIRA head John Graham outlining 10 ideas for improving the regulatory process. It’s the product of a November 2016 roundtable with Sens. Mike Rounds, Angus King, James Lankford and others. Graham, who now heads Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said the themes of this paper are increasing transparency at regulatory agencies, enhancing public, congressional and judicial oversight of agencies, stimulating retrospective review of old regulations, and ensuring evidential support for new regulations.


Paris Forum to Focus on Anniversary – French President Macron will host the One Planet Summit tomorrow in Paris, on the two-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. The Summit will focus specifically on climate finance. Heads of State will be invited to attend this meeting.

Nuclear Weapons Triad Forum Set – The Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center (ANWA DC) will host the Inaugural morning forum on Capitol Hill tomorrow.  The event will feature key Members of Congress representing nuclear triad communities at Air Force and Naval bases, and NNSA sites, The group will also outline a series of 11 more 2018 forums and roundtables with key government officials, industry leaders and suppliers, and academic experts on the triad issues of the day, Each of these events will tackle the nuclear triad’s emerging issues and challenges, while sharing the successes, in the ongoing nuclear weapons enterprise modernization.

House Panels to Look at Fuel Standards, GHGs – The House Energy & Commerce panels on Environment and on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection will hold a joint hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. to discuss updates on the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Program (CAFE) and GHG emissions standards for motor vehicles.  Witnesses include our friend and Montgomery, AL Honda/Acura dealer Forrest McConnell representing the National Automotive Dealers Assn.  Others include AAM’s Mitch Bainwol, Global Automakers John Bozzella and Dave Cooke of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Senate Energy to Look FERC, Interior Permitting; Vote on Nominees – The Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. to examine the infrastructure permitting processes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of the Interior.  Testifying will be Interior’s Jim Cason, FERC’s Terry Turpin and Janet Pfleegar of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, along with several others.  The Committee will also vote on nominations Linda Capuano to head the DOE’s Energy Information Administration and Tim Petty to be assistant secretary of the Interior Department before the hearing.

Senate Foreign Relations to Focus on European Security – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on European energy security focused on U.S. Interests and coercive Russian diplomacy.  Witnesses include the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell and State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Energy Resource John McCarrick.

WH Infrastructure Aide Headlines Forum – The Hudson Institute will host an event tomorrow at Noon on the future of U.S. public transit systems keynoted by D.J. Gribbin, Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy. Following Gribbin’s remarks, David Horner will moderate a panel discussion featuring Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete K. Rahn, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld, and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Phillip A. Washington.

Resources Looks at Dependence on Foreign Metals, Minerals – The House Resources panel on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an oversight hearing tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. on the consequences of relying on other countries for a growing number of metals and minerals.  Witnesses include DoD’s Ronnie Favors, USGS’s Murray Hitzman, RAND’s Richard Silberglitt, NMA’s Katie Sweeney and Havasupai Tribe Council member Carletta Tilousi.

Webinar to Look at Digital Grid – Utility Dive will hold a webinar tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. on discussion on how digital agility can help utilities improve operational excellence and deliver superior customer engagement and experience.  Speakers will include experts from MIT, PG&E and Siemens Digital Grid.  Key topics covered in the webinar will include adopting new grid modernization strategies, building new revenue streams, extreme weather and grid resilience among other issues.

Energy Storage Forum Set –The 3rd annual U.S. Energy Storage Summit will be held in San Francisco tomorrow and Wednesday at the Hilton Union Square.  The forum will bring together utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators, and storage practitioners for two full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders, and extensive, high-level networking.  Speakers will Include APRA-E’s Susan Babinec, Peter Klauer of Cal ISO, Cal PUC Commissioner Carla Peterman, ESA CEO (and former MD PSC Chair) Kelly Speakes-Backman and our friends Shayle Kann of GTM Research, Stephen Lacey and Justin Gerdes of Greentech Media.

Forum Set to Look at NatGas – Tomorrow and Wednesday, the Energy Institute at Colorado State University (CSU) and Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will be co-hosting the CH4 Connections conference at CSU’s campus in Fort Collins. This conference, now in its fourth year, will focus on methane emissions quantification, mitigation, and capture for the natural gas industry, and will include a tour of the Methane Emissions Test and Evaluation Center (METEC) that will showcase the solutions under development and in field testing at the center.

House Energy Panel Looks at NAFTA, Energy – The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. in 2322 Rayburn on the impacts and future of North American energy trade and NAFTA.  Our friends Chamber Global Energy Institute head Karen Harbert and refiners Assn Head Chet Thompson will be among those testifying.  RFF’s Alan Krupnick and ABB’s Allen Burchett (repping NAM) will also join the panel.

Senate Environment Hosts NRC Commissioners – The Senate Environment Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. to discuss oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  NRC Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki, Commissioner Jeff Baran and Commissioner Stephen Burns will testify.

Senate Commerce to Vote on NOAA Head – The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. to approve President Trump’s choice of AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

RFF Seminar to Look at CPP – Resources for the Future (RFF) will hold a seminar on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. to explore the implications of social cost of carbon revisions for the Clean Power Plan itself and for potential future energy and climate policies.  RFF’s Alan Krupnick will reflect on the decision’s treatment of health benefits, and Harvard University’s Kathy Fallon Lambert will present new research on how repealing the Clean Power Plan would impact public health. RFF’s Dallas Burtraw will conclude the seminar with a discussion of how a revised “inside the fence line” approach to Clean Power Plan compliance might work.

House Science to Look at Solar Programs Focus – The House Science Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. on advancing solar energy technology.  The hearing will look at research and deployment, while examining DOE’s efforts to shift solar energy funding toward early-stage research.  Witnesses include DOE’s EERE head Dan Simmons, NREL’s Martin Keller, Stanford University’s Steve Eglash and Kenny Stein of the Institute for Energy Research.

Energy Stakeholder Breakfast Set – The Advanced Energy Stakeholder Series continues on Thursday morning with an event supported by stakeholder member organizations across New York, Chicago, Denver, Washington D.C. and Boston.  The breakfast will focus on energy, mobility & transportation and will include Rachel Healy of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Jigar Shah, PEPCO’s Robert Stewart, Marissa Gillett of the Maryland Public Service Commission and David Schatz of ChargePoint.

NJ to Host NAFTA WebinarNational Journal will host a webinar on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. to look at renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.  In this webinar, speakers will examine NAFTA’s history, development, and future, and address the major players involved, each side’s key demands, the timeline, potential outcomes and the impact of President Trump’s rhetoric on the process.

Forum to Look at US-Mexico NatGas – The Latin American Dialogue hosts a panel discussion on Friday at 9:00 a.m. aimed at understanding the role of LNG for US energy exports and commercial ties in Latin America, as well as the US-Mexico energy relationship. As global energy trade grows and the United States looks to expand oil and gas exports, Latin American countries provide significant commercial opportunities for exporters and investors alike. It remains imperative that Latin American countries and the United States strive to find mutually beneficial opportunities in order to boost energy ties and expand energy cooperation.  Speakers include State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Energy Resources John McCarrick, Sempra’s Mark Nelson, Leslie Palti-Guzman of the Rapidan Group and several others.

BPC to Host FERC Chair – On Friday at 10:00 a.m., the Bipartisan Policy Center will host FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee for a sit down with BPC President Jason Grumet to discuss the proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule. This proposal, drafted by the Department of Energy, calls for an expedited rulemaking to support generators that provide specific reliability and resiliency services. The proposal calls on FERC to take action on the rulemaking by today.

NatGas Roundtable Panel to Discuss Energy Security – On Friday at 3:30 p.m. at the Mexican Cultural Institute, the Embassy of Mexico and the Natural Gas Roundtable of Washington will hold a panel session on natural gas and North American energy security. A Holiday Reception will follow at 4:30 p.m.

The Last Jedi Hits Theaters – MIDNIGHT, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15th


CSIS to Host World Coal Report – On December 18th at 3:30 p.m., CSIS will host the launch of the IEA’s new report analyzing coal’s recent trends and forecasting its demand, supply, and trade through 2022.  Coal remains world’s dominant fuel. Under pressure from decarbonization, cheaper alternatives, and geopolitical shifts in demand, coal continues to be one of the most pressing questions in energy. Peter Fraser, Head of Division for Gas, Coal, and Power Markets at the International Energy Agency, will present the IEA’s report.

API’s Annual State of Energy Address – On January 9th, API holds its annual State of Energy Address.

Hopper, Honorable to Headline WCEE Event – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) will hold a reception at Dentons on Tuesday January 9th at 6:00 p.m. to discuss lessons learned from political appointees.  The event features a lively discussion about the political appointment process in the energy and environmental fields and will feature a panel of former state and federal political appointees about how they started down the path towards political appointment and navigated the process.  Panelists will share their experiences and candid views about the challenges and rewards of a political appointment, as well as lessons they have learned while in these highly visible roles.  Speakers include SEIA’s Abby Hopper, former director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; former FERC Commissioner Collette Honorable and Connecticut Consumer Counsel Elin Katz, who is President of the National Association of State Utility Advocates.

75th Annual Global Globes – Can’t wait for Seth Myers to host this one from January 7th from Hollywood.

World Energy Outlook Set For Launch – On January 16th at 1:30 p.m., the CSIS Energy & National Security Program will host a forum and the U.S. launch of the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2017. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, will present the findings from the report.

WCEE to Look at 2018 Agenda – The Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE) holds its  6th Annual WCEE Lunch & Learn Brainstorming Event on Tuesday January 23rd at Noon kicking off its Lunch & Learn planning, as well as deciding what topics to cover in 2018.

Pruitt to Head to Senate Environment – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will appear before the Committee on Jan. 31, 2018, making his first return to the panel nearly a year after his confirmation.